The Afterwards

Stephanie Jimenez

By Stephanie Jimenez —

Why are the best things always the worst? Take, for example, holiday cookies.

Today, I sat at work for ten hours straight and subsisted off leftover holiday cookies. Now it is midnight and I don’t go to sleep because somewhere inside me my Zumba instructor is screaming you haven’t burned it off yet! and from under my bed my yoga teacher is asking for just five minutes towards my practice and even the friendly guy from the Youtube videos is pinching my ass like a creep until I do another set of jumping jacks or at least look at myself long enough in the full length mirror to convince myself I look alright, and that’s what I’ll have to do, I guess: stare at myself until I’m alright.

I had woken up that morning from the strangest dreams, the kind of dreams that make you embarrassed, ashamed, the ones you get mad at yourself for having dreamt, even though, of course, they can’t be your fault. There are so many things that aren’t your fault. If you hurt someone, it’s your fault. If your dream hurts someone, whose fault is it then?

The weekend had passed in a show-going haze, music and instruments everywhere, crazed women swooning and humping all around, ravenous men with eyes that stayed open like the Laundromats under the train on Roosevelt Avenue. And then somehow it was Sunday and I was at my parent’s house because their kitchen is so much nicer than mine and I was wondering how it was possible that something that has the word oatmeal in it could actually be so awful for you. That didn’t stop me from eating all the batter, and when Ma went to take it away, I growled.

–Leave it!

–For what, she said, that goofy smile on her face. As if she didn’t know!

I walked back to my apartment, under the train, and the trash cans were all overflowing. I walked past two men standing outside of El Triunfo bar, next to Jesucristo Es el Señor church (which my querido boyfriend translates to “Jesus is the man!”). I had the oatmeal raisin cookies with me and it reminded me of the time I worked at the cupcake shop and they set off a timer on our closing shifts, and we were allowed to take home as many cupcakes as we could fit in a box in 2.5 minutes. One time I gave 46 cupcakes to a man collecting donations on the train.

When I finally got home, my cookies put down, I went to sleep and that’s when I had the strange dreams–deaths, affairs, the apocalypse–the whole gamut of misery and abuse, and I wanted to call you and tell you about it, guess what, I would say, guess what fucked up shit I dreamt. You didn’t think I had it in me!

Instead I showed up to work with my cookies and smiled, and we all gathered around where we usually do at the office and we opened the Tupperware to compare all the holiday treats. The oatmeal cookies were declared the favorite, and I said, yes! The underdog wins! And I don’t think anyone knew what the hell I was talking about until finally someone said, that’s true, some people hate raisins, and I sighed and felt so much lighter, I felt like a towel being wrung out.

I don’t think gaining weight is the worst that could happen, and I don’t actually want to tell you about those strange dreams.

About the Author: Stephanie Jimenez is a writer who currently works in publishing at a small imprint specializing in literary fiction. She grew up in Queens, is a college graduate from an all-women’s college in California, and a Fulbright recipient. She has just finished writing her first book-length manuscript.

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